This US Navy Fukushima lawsuit

Dozens of American sailors who assisted Japan during the 2011 nuclear disaster are suing the operators of Fukushima power plant for more than £612 million (US$1bn) in damages, claiming that they have become sick from radiation exposure.

The sailors were on board the USS Ronald Reagan super-carrier when it was diverted to northeast Japan following the devastation of the March 11, 2011 earthquake which triggered a tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.

As they helped rescue victims and evacuate disaster zones, the claimants allege that they drank, bathed and waded through water contaminated with radiation from the damaged nuclear power plant and were reportedly exposed to radioactive plumes.

A total of 79 named claimants – including sailors, support personnel and dependents – allege that over the past three years, they have suffered from serious health issues as a result of radiation exposure from the plant, ranging from an array of cancers such as leukemia to eye diseases and fertility problems.

I’m afraid that I just don’t believe it for a number of reasons.

USS Ronald Reagan is a nuclear powered ship itself. Thus it is festooned with nuclear monitoring equipment. Which, amazingly, didn’t go off.

Secondly, if radiation were the cause of these illnesses this would be quite easy to test. Check the bodies of the people suffering from them for radiation. That they’re not waving this around as a bloody shirt leads one to suspect that they can’t find any such evidence.

“There is no indication that any U.S. Personnel supporting Operation Tomodachi experienced radiation exposure at levels associated with the occurrence of long-term health effects,” a US Navy spokesman told The Telegraph.

“All personnel were monitored, with very sensitive instruments. The worst case radiation exposure was less than 25 per cent of the annual radiation exposure that a member of the public gets from the sun, rocks or soil.”

I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe the claims being made in this case.

15 thoughts on “This US Navy Fukushima lawsuit”

  1. we spent five hours sitting in a radioactive plume that came from the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

    Which doesn’t actually make it a “bad” nuclear incident. In terms of radiation release, at least. Screwing over four reactor units is pretty bad.

  2. Isn’t it the usual US tactic of hoping the defendant settles for slightly less than their likely defence costs?

  3. A new low in ambulance chasing.
    They were helping survivors of the tsunami, ffs, not wading through a mushroom cloud.
    A US aircraft carrier has about 1,000 crew (?) Add another 1,500 spread over the rest of the fleet. Some sickness / absenteeism / cancer is to be expected. A rate of 3% seems a bit high but not extraordinary.
    The psychology is interesting. If you are a “survivor” (Hiroshima) your life expectancy is virtually unchanged. If you are a “victim” (Chernobyl) you pick up all sorts of nasty lergies.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    If they sue in an American court, a lot of sailors are going to get rich. More lawyers of course. Sure the claims are utterly bogus. But any jury of idiots will look at a big faceless foreign company and the tear-stained faces of the relatives of those brave young men defending freedom, and money will flow.

  5. It obviously isn’t true, but it does have a lot of truthiness about it. Radiation, boo, hiss, etc.

  6. The whole leukaemia-caused-by-nuclear-power-plant thing refuses to die, even though that type of cancer is far more likely to be caused by a virus, see the investigation for Sellafield.

    Meeting new people creates perfect conditions for a virus, in particular, this is not unknown amongst service personnel who get shuffled around different places a lot.

  7. Charging into a nuclear disaster, then complaining you were exposed to radiation, is the action of a jerk.

  8. bif says “A rate of 3% seems a bit high but not extraordinary.”
    But how many of the named claimants (i) actually exist and (ii) were exposed to radiation, however weak, from Fukushima and (iii) have illnesses that could, just possibly, be linked to radiation?
    The latest comparable incident:
    “as over half of their alleged seafood claimants are phantoms or are the victims of identity theft, and as more than 95 percent never filed a claim with the Program,”
    0.15% is a plausible level of random variation.

  9. The average claim is $12m, more than the average Joe will earn in the rest of his working life.
    “Lt Simmons, who has three children, is now wheelchair bound despite doctors being unable to diagnose his condition despite carrying out a battery of tests for diseases including muscular dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and the tick-borne Lyme disease.”
    Still a lieutenant at 36: doesn’t look like a fast-track career: one great-uncle enlisted as a private in 1914 (to his mother’s horror) and was a Captain before he switched to the RFC (the only role with a higher death rate than infantry officers) when he came out of hospital; the other had to take a boat back from Canada so he joined up as a potential officer and finished four years later as a be-medalled major*. The three children of Lt Simmons will do far better out of a claim against Tepco than any earnings they might expect him to receive in the rest of his life.
    *Elder brother was nominated for a medal but, for reasons of morale, it was transferred to another officer in the same regiment when he was stretchered into hospital.

  10. bloke in france
    February 8, 2014 at 11:43 am
    “. . .
    A US aircraft carrier has about 1,000 crew (?) Add another 1,500 spread over the rest of the fleet. Some sickness / absenteeism / cancer is to be expected. A rate of 3% seems a bit high but not extraordinary.”

    A US aircraft carrier has a *2,500* person crew along with another 2,500 from the embarked airwing (when deployed – those guys may not have been onboard during this time).

    Radioactive monitoring equipment isn’t normally spread all over the ship – mainly the engine compartments – though there are portable instruments than can be set up (and likely were so your point stands Tim).

    They’re suing the Japanese because they *can’t* sue the Navy/US government. Short of showing actual negligence (and probably need to show *deliberate* negligence), this all falls under duty expectations and a suit would be dismissed.

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